MINNEAPOLIS -- When he sat idle in the bullpen for a full week, and when he was passed over for Saturday's vacant rotation spot, Jason Stanford figured something was up. He was right. The Indians will announce Saturday that they have designated the left-handed Stanford for assignment. That will be the corresponding move to get Aaron Laffey up to the big leagues to make the start Saturday in what had been Cliff Lee's rotation spot. Laffey's contract will be purchased from Triple-A Buffalo.
Stanford, who made two spot starts for the Tribe in June before being moved to the bullpen, wanted that Saturday nod. Instead, he'll be seeking employment with a new club. Because Stanford was out of Minor League options, the Indians must expose him to waivers. If he clears waivers, he will be eligible for Minor League free agency, and he has no intention of returning to Buffalo. "This is my last day in an Indians uniform," Stanford said matter-of-factly after given news of his designation Friday night. And a long tenure it was. Signed as a non-drafted free agent by the club in 1999, the 30-year-old Stanford had been with the Indians his entire professional career. He made the big-league club as the fifth starter at the outset of 2004, but an elbow injury two starts into that season sidelined him. He had Tommy John elbow surgery and didn't return to the mound in the Minors until the second half of '05. When the Indians purchased Stanford's contract from Buffalo in June to fill a rotation spot emptied by Jeremy Sowers' demotion to Triple-A, he became one of the club's feel-good stories of the year. He held the Marlins to one run over six innings to get the victory on June 14 in Atlanta and told reporters he felt like a "phoenix rising from the ashes." But when Jake Westbrook returned from the disabled list, the Indians were forced to either move Stanford to the bullpen or risk losing him to waivers. They went with the former option, and Stanford put up a 4.61 ERA in six appearances as the Tribe's long man. "The Indians have given me every opportunity," Stanford said. "I'm happy I got the opportunity. I took it and ran with it." Now he's looking to run to another big-league club. Stanford said he would pitch in the Minors for another organization, if a Major League opportunity doesn't immediately arise. But because he views himself as a starter, he has no interest in remaining in an Indians organization stocked with starting pitching. "This is tough," he said of leaving the Indians. "But it's an opportunity that opens another door." Stanford is the second Tribe reliever designated this week. Fernando Cabrera was exposed to waivers Wednesday.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.